Gone fishin' or gone workin'? For these guys, it's a little of both

PORTLAND, Ore- They're ugly. They smell awful. No one in their right mind would eat them, but catch enough pikeminnow fish and you're looking at a sweet payday.

John Paul with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife helps make sure fishermen get paid as part of the Pikeminnow Sport Reward Program.

"It's definitely an incentive to make a little money while you're out there fishing," Paul said.

It started back in the 1990's to help battle surging populations of pikeminnow, one of the major predators of salmon and steelhead.

"These spawn in still-water. There's more still-water than there historically has been so their population has jumped up to above what it naturally should be," Paul said.

There's more still-water thanks in large part to the Bonneville Dam, so Bonneville Power pays fishermen to help reign in pikeminnow populations.

Last year they wrote some hefty checks, with the top angler catching nearly $77,000 worth of pikeminnow.

The top earners are very secretive, most won't even let the state release their names.

But Paul doesn't mind because he says the program is working.

Fishermen have caught four million pikeminnow so far, helping to protect one of the region's greatest resources.

The program runs through the end of September. All you need to do is register with the state and you're ready to hit the water.